For more Roman ruins in Lisbon, try to visit the subterranean Roman Galleries, but be aware that they are only open for a few days a year!
In Alfama, on a street behind the cathedral, there is a small museum dedicated to Lisbon’s Roman Theatre, the archaeological remains of which stand behind it. Emperor Augustus built the theatre in the first century BC; when it was expanded in 57 AD it could hold 5,000 people. It fell out of use in the Middle Ages, but was rediscovered again during the reconstruction that followed the huge earthquake that shook Lisbon in 1755.
The museum tells the story of Roman Lisbon, then known as Olisipo. Using finds from the archaeological site, the museum pieces together the story of Rome’s influence in Lisbon. Among its finds are a sculpture of Silenus who, in Greek mythology, was the tutor of the wine god Dionysus, which must have been hard work. Most of the columns and sculptures have been relocated to the museum, but you still get a clear impression of how the amphitheatre itself would have been.
A Classical Influence
Rome’s presence in Lisbon lasted for roughly seven centuries and its influence can be seen everywhere in Portuguese culture. The Romans were great engineers and some of their roads, bridges and aqueducts endure to this day. However, Portugal and Lisbon’s own identity slowly emerged from the ruins of the Roman Empire in the 5th BC, when tribes of barbarians plundered and fractured the Western Roman Empire.
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